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Government tightens dog control

WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2007
Media Statement

Government tightens dog control

Associate Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced a further tightening of dog control legislation.

The law was reviewed in the light of the most recent dog attacks.

“Dog safety needs good law, good enforcement, and support from the community and dog owners. In general, the law is robust and provides the tools councils need,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“But more action needs to be taken to get the dogs that pose high risk out of the breeding population. The government has decided to introduce a bill requiring that dogs of breeds or types classified as menacing must be neutered.

Many councils already require the neutering of menacing breeds or types of dog, and this change gives national consistency. In addition to the breed-based classificiation, individual dogs can be classified as menacing by councils. The neutering of these dogs won’t be made mandatory, but councils will retain the power to require it.

“The Bill will also create a power to give government the flexibility to specify by regulation additional policy matters that councils must consider in developing their dog control policies. While councils will be required to address the specified policy matters, they will still be able to tailor their policies to local circumstances.

“The process for adding more breeds to the import ban (which results in councils classifying these dogs as menacing) will also be simplified.

As an immediate action, the Presa Canario breed is to be added to the list of breeds/types of dog that are banned from import into New Zealand as a proactive, precautionary measure to protect the community. This breed has been banned from import by Australia and is not known to be present in New Zealand.

Nanaia Mahuta also announced that in addition to the immediate law changes, suggestions for further possible changes to dog control will be circulated for public comment in a policy options paper.

As well, the government is, with the support of local councils and other organisations, to:

• work on ways of enhancing the data available on dog safety and control;
• develop a set of national guidelines for councils to provide practical guidance and support in the implementation of the Act; and
• develop consistent public messages on dog safety to inform people of the inherent risks that dogs pose and develop public understanding of dog behaviour.
“Central government is doing its part by keeping the laws under review, acting to strengthen them where needed, and providing central support like the dogs database. To achieve dog safety, local government, dog owners, and the community must also play their part,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

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